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Everyone on here has been exceptionally helpful for previous posts, so I figured I would ask for more advice. This is a bit long so thank you for reading!
I am not a prime candidate for a clinical Ph.D. program, which I am willing to accept. I am an above-average student with a 3.5 and work in research labs at the novice level, but I just do not compete with some of the students I have come across. However, I am still going to apply to programs. I am working my butt off making connections, listening to great advice, researching faculty and the right fit, reading grad school books, and taking courses on fMRI training on Coursera.
I am in CA, the bay area specifically, so I know that I have more opportunities for work, research, etc. I am interested in neuropsychology and neuroscience, however, my university no longer offers neuroscience which really hurts!
Does anyone have any advice for what to do in case I am not accepted into any clinical Ph.D. programs?
My dream would be to gain experience at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center or their Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Disease and reapply the next cycle. Am I dreaming too big for someone with only a little research experience?
There is also a Master's program for neuroimaging at USC which sounds incredibly fascinating and potentially good for my CV and interest in neuropsychology.
I feel quite overwhelmed navigating it all, especially when I think about the reality of not being accepted into most, if not all, Ph.D. programs.
Any advice for additional coursework, year-long programs, or research opportunities before reapplying if I am not accepted? Thank you so much for your time.
 
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It's smart to both send some strategically chosen (read: not the most competitive of programs, so long as they're still solid) applications and also work at tempering your expectations. There is a good chance you'll need to reapply, but if you do, it's an opportunity to get more experience and figure out more specifically what you want to do. I didn't have all that much research experience when I applied and was accepted, though I did have some, so don't fret about it TOO much- just make sure you have a solid plan B .

I am not in neuroscience so others may have more specific advice especially with respect to if a master's program would be helpful (seems like additional classes in cognitive psych could certainly be). It wasn't super clear but it sounds like your plan to get experience at the memory and aging center would be research-related? It would certainly be worth your while if you could also get on some posters, publications, etc. Depending on the kinds of connections and previous work you've got, you could also consider finding someone to support you in writing a brief report (shorter, sometimes easier to get published), or review of recent literature/research/recommendations applied to a specific area of clinical application. You could consider submitting such manuscripts perhaps for less competitive journals with a smaller readership aimed at more specific audience. Rehabilitation counseling comes to mind since you're interested in memory / neurodegenerative diseases. I took a similar approach following my master's program and related capstone paper (which targeted a very specific area/condition) under guidance of my advisor after I finished the program and before applying t o PhD programs. Even if you don't have publications/submissions specifically related to new research, having experience writing and with the process of manuscript submission, revision, etc is helpful. Definite bonus if you can speak to that experience in interviews (and you might even discover you kind of like it? also a huge plus if that turns out to be true). And remember the process of getting into a GOOD doctoral program is a marathon, not a sprint. If you don't get in this cycle but reapply and get accepted, well, that is certainly a well-traveled path and you'll be in good company.
 
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summerbabe

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work in research labs at the novice level
If you don't receive an offer this cycle, this is the likely culprit.

Any advice for additional coursework, year-long programs, or research opportunities before reapplying if I am not accepted?
I'd focus on pursuing research opportunities that align with the type of research you'd like to do in graduate school and similar to what prospective PIs do, if possible. You can use the time to get a good research-specific LoR and hopefully get attached to published journal articles and accepted poster submissions.

Think of coursework as personal enrichment and not necessarily something that will drastically boost your application.

My dream would be to gain experience at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center or their Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Disease and reapply the next cycle.
Looking at these faculty bios, it looks like a lot of MDs and STEM PhDs. If you pursue opportunities such as this, make sure that your effort will support a case for being successful in a clinical psychology PhD program, which covers a lot of broad competencies beyond neuro. And your application will be evaluated by a range of faculty, most of whom are not particularly interested in neuro but would value published work outside of their specialty since that demonstrates engagement that can help you be successful in the PhD program. Good luck!
 
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PsychPhDone

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Everyone on here has been exceptionally helpful for previous posts, so I figured I would ask for more advice. This is a bit long so thank you for reading!
I am not a prime candidate for a clinical Ph.D. program, which I am willing to accept. I am an above-average student with a 3.5 and work in research labs at the novice level, but I just do not compete with some of the students I have come across. However, I am still going to apply to programs. I am working my butt off making connections, listening to great advice, researching faculty and the right fit, reading grad school books, and taking courses on fMRI training on Coursera.
I am in CA, the bay area specifically, so I know that I have more opportunities for work, research, etc. I am interested in neuropsychology and neuroscience, however, my university no longer offers neuroscience which really hurts!
Does anyone have any advice for what to do in case I am not accepted into any clinical Ph.D. programs?
My dream would be to gain experience at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center or their Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Disease and reapply the next cycle. Am I dreaming too big for someone with only a little research experience?
There is also a Master's program for neuroimaging at USC which sounds incredibly fascinating and potentially good for my CV and interest in neuropsychology.
I feel quite overwhelmed navigating it all, especially when I think about the reality of not being accepted into most, if not all, Ph.D. programs.
Any advice for additional coursework, year-long programs, or research opportunities before reapplying if I am not accepted? Thank you so much for your time.
If you don't get in, I recommend taking two years to get more experience. If you apply for the next cycle, you will not have much more experience to add to your applications by the time they are due.

Feel free to PM me if you don't get it in. I can facilitate intros to the groups you're interested in.
 
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Temperance

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Check job listings at the San Francisco VA and UCSF for clinical research coordinators or research assistants. UCSF is a research powerhouse and hires CRCs and RAs year-round. If you do a two-year post-baccalaureate research assistant position, then you will have more exposure to research, more preparation for graduate study, and (sometimes) mentorship from PIs or postdoctoral fellows.

I'd also expand the job search to across the country if you can, especially if you know what research area interests you.

Edit to add: NCIRE is the contractor who often hires CRCs/RAs for the San Francisco VA; check job listings on their site, as well.
 
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Dec 30, 2020
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It's smart to both send some strategically chosen (read: not the most competitive of programs, so long as they're still solid) applications and also work at tempering your expectations. There is a good chance you'll need to reapply, but if you do, it's an opportunity to get more experience and figure out more specifically what you want to do. I didn't have all that much research experience when I applied and was accepted, though I did have some, so don't fret about it TOO much- just make sure you have a solid plan B .

I am not in neuroscience so others may have more specific advice especially with respect to if a master's program would be helpful (seems like additional classes in cognitive psych could certainly be). It wasn't super clear but it sounds like your plan to get experience at the memory and aging center would be research-related? It would certainly be worth your while if you could also get on some posters, publications, etc. Depending on the kinds of connections and previous work you've got, you could also consider finding someone to support you in writing a brief report (shorter, sometimes easier to get published), or review of recent literature/research/recommendations applied to a specific area of clinical application. You could consider submitting such manuscripts perhaps for less competitive journals with a smaller readership aimed at more specific audience. Rehabilitation counseling comes to mind since you're interested in memory / neurodegenerative diseases. I took a similar approach following my master's program and related capstone paper (which targeted a very specific area/condition) under guidance of my advisor after I finished the program and before applying t o PhD programs. Even if you don't have publications/submissions specifically related to new research, having experience writing and with the process of manuscript submission, revision, etc is helpful. Definite bonus if you can speak to that experience in interviews (and you might even discover you kind of like it? also a huge plus if that turns out to be true). And remember the process of getting into a GOOD doctoral program is a marathon, not a sprint. If you don't get in this cycle but reapply and get accepted, well, that is certainly a well-traveled path and you'll be in good company.
Amazing! Thank you for your advice. There is a program at the University of Colorado Boulder that has a clinical psychology PhD with neuroscience integrated into the curriculum. They have an imaging center for students as well. It seems to be the best of both worlds, but I do not want to solely work in neuroscience.
A friend of mine was a researcher in the memory and aging center for a bit, so I am hoping I can gain experience in that department if the first round of applications doesn't work out. Having research experience from UCSF would look great on my CV and I would love to feel confident in research before entering a program.
I did not know there was an option for a brief report to gain experience. This would be a great opportunity for me to practice writing. I am much more math oriented, so this is not always my strongest area although I am not a terrible writer. Thank you very much for helping me today, I really appreciate it!
 
Dec 30, 2020
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If you don't receive an offer this cycle, this is the likely culprit.


I'd focus on pursuing research opportunities that align with the type of research you'd like to do in graduate school and similar to what prospective PIs do, if possible. You can use the time to get a good research-specific LoR and hopefully get attached to published journal articles and accepted poster submissions.

Think of coursework as personal enrichment and not necessarily something that will drastically boost your application.


Looking at these faculty bios, it looks like a lot of MDs and STEM PhDs. If you pursue opportunities such as this, make sure that your effort will support a case for being successful in a clinical psychology PhD program, which covers a lot of broad competencies beyond neuro. And your application will be evaluated by a range of faculty, most of whom are not particularly interested in neuro but would value published work outside of their specialty since that demonstrates engagement that can help you be successful in the PhD program. Good luck!
Sounds great, thank you. I am going to speak with my abnormal psychology professor who is the head of the clinical department this week to see if this would be great experience in case I am not accepted during the first cycle. I would love the balance of both clinical and neuroscience/neuropsychology under my belt so I can thrive in a program in clinical psychology with an emphasis in neuropsychology.
 
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There's already been some great advice here. I just want to add that it's not unusual for PhD applicants (especially those without a Masters or post bachelors training) to be rejected in their first cycle. So if you don't get into a program the first go around, I wouldn't see it as confirmation that you won't be able to live out your dream. It sounds like this is something you're really passionate about and that you're already taking steps to remedy areas of growth. I wish you the best of luck!
 
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Dec 30, 2020
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If you don't get in, I recommend taking two years to get more experience. If you apply for the next cycle, you will not have much more experience to add to your applications by the time they are due.

Feel free to PM me if you don't get it in. I can facilitate intros to the groups you're interested in.
That is incredibly generous of you, thank you! Also, great advice. I would love to work in research to gain experience for two years. Also, I looked into post bac's a few days ago but I have no interest in spending more money on education. Would you recommend this as a backup?
 
Dec 30, 2020
20
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Check job listings at the San Francisco VA and UCSF for clinical research coordinators or research assistants. UCSF is a research powerhouse and hires CRCs and RAs year-round. If you do a two-year post-baccalaureate research assistant position, then you will have more exposure to research, more preparation for graduate study, and (sometimes) mentorship from PIs or postdoctoral fellows.

I'd also expand the job search to across the country if you can, especially if you know what research area interests you.

Edit to add: NCIRE is the contractor who often hires CRCs/RAs for the San Francisco VA; check job listings on their site, as well.
I will do some additional research. The only post-bac program I looked into was at UC Berkeley and it was quite expensive. I am open to it but also want to be conscious of finances so I will look to other areas of the country. At that point, would a master's be even better?
 
Dec 30, 2020
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There's already been some great advice here. I just want to add that it's not unusual for PhD applicants (especially those without a Masters or post bachelors training) to be rejected in their first cycle. So if you don't get into a program the first go around, I wouldn't see it as confirmation that you won't be able to live out your dream. It sounds like this is something you're really passionate about and that you're already taking steps to remedy areas of growth. I wish you the best of luck!
Thank you! I feel quite overwhelmed by it all, but that is normal. I may apply to PsyD programs as well. I know this is typically frowned upon due to financial debt. I am only doing this because I assume I will not get into a PhD program. In theory, getting a master's or a post-bacc sound appealing, but I just do not have the finances to spend on education. Spending an additional ten years sounds daunting - 2 years for a master's, 6 years for a PhD, and 2 years for a post doc. From what I have gathered, and please correct me if I am wrong, a PsyD program is typically 5 years and I would complete a postdoc in 2 for neuropsychology. This would be 7 years of pre-career. If I add on 2-3 years by getting a master's and the additional year in a PhD, that is money I am losing working in the field.
That being said, if I am rejected by PhD programs, I would prefer to spend those two years at least making money in the research field rather than paying for education. Is this at all possible?
 

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Thank you! I feel quite overwhelmed by it all, but that is normal. I may apply to PsyD programs as well. I know this is typically frowned upon due to financial debt. I am only doing this because I assume I will not get into a PhD program. In theory, getting a master's or a post-bacc sound appealing, but I just do not have the finances to spend on education. Spending an additional ten years sounds daunting - 2 years for a master's, 6 years for a PhD, and 2 years for a post doc. From what I have gathered, and please correct me if I am wrong, a PsyD program is typically 5 years and I would complete a postdoc in 2 for neuropsychology. This would be 7 years of pre-career. If I add on 2-3 years by getting a master's and the additional year in a PhD, that is money I am losing working in the field.
That being said, if I am rejected by PhD programs, I would prefer to spend those two years at least making money in the research field rather than paying for education. Is this at all possible?

PsyD completion times vary quite a bit. I would be wary of those that promise 3-4 years pre-internship, as these are usually the diploma mills. Additionally, the mills will severely hamper your ability to find quality internship and postdoc sites in neuropsychology. Most will follow a 4-5 +1 (internship year) plus another 2 years for neuro postdoc.
 

PsychPhDone

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That is incredibly generous of you, thank you! Also, great advice. I would love to work in research to gain experience for two years. Also, I looked into post bac's a few days ago but I have no interest in spending more money on education. Would you recommend this as a backup?
You do not need a postbacc or masters unless you don't have the psych course prereqs done or your GPA is low. If you're short on a particular course, you can often take it for free if you are an employee of a university (ie, as a research assistant).
 

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To clarify what is meant by "post-baccalaureate" in the context of a research assistant job, it does not refer to post-baccalaureate certificate programs; it refers to bachelor's-level jobs as a research assistant. These jobs are paid and (most of the time) full-time.
 
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Thank you! I feel quite overwhelmed by it all, but that is normal. I may apply to PsyD programs as well. I know this is typically frowned upon due to financial debt. I am only doing this because I assume I will not get into a PhD program. In theory, getting a master's or a post-bacc sound appealing, but I just do not have the finances to spend on education. Spending an additional ten years sounds daunting - 2 years for a master's, 6 years for a PhD, and 2 years for a post doc. From what I have gathered, and please correct me if I am wrong, a PsyD program is typically 5 years and I would complete a postdoc in 2 for neuropsychology. This would be 7 years of pre-career. If I add on 2-3 years by getting a master's and the additional year in a PhD, that is money I am losing working in the field.
That being said, if I am rejected by PhD programs, I would prefer to spend those two years at least making money in the research field rather than paying for education. Is this at all possible?
I think that there is something to be said about some PsyD programs, but if the only reason you are applying to/want to go to these programs is because you do not believe you can get into a PhD program, I would caution you to think over the choice. What I meant by my original post is that being rejected in the first cycle is very common and not automatically a sign of failure. (Actually, I would assume it is less common to be accepted first time, right out of undergrad). What I have seen a majority of people do if they are rejected in the first cycle is to find a paid position in a related field such as a research assistant, a behavioral intervention based job that only requires a BA/BS, or an assessment based job that requires a minimum amount of training post-bacc.This shows PhD programs that you are committed to the field and that you have gained further experience in related fields. (Basically, I think it would def be possible to make money in a research field).

If you were to have a strong reason to want to go to a PsyD program and you were aiming for one that was APA accredited and generally respected, I would have nothing to say. But if you are just hoping to land somewhere so that you can avoid a gap year, you may end up accidentally derailing your career depending on the program. I would say the same thing about any unaccredited or unfunded PhD program as well. You have to think long term such as: "How will this set me up for obtaining an APA internship?" "What careers will remain open to me? Which ones will close?" etc. A well used gap year could strategically end up being a good investment if you use it correctly. My biggest advice here is to not make any decisions based off of fear. Make sure that whatever you chose to do is well thought out and given space to breathe.
 
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Strong advice, thank you. I really loved what you said about "not making any decisions based on fear". That is critical and I didn't even think about it like that. I will take your advice and seek out paid research opportunities to improve my cv. That might even provide me with extra time to narrow everything down to exactly what I want. I feel pretty confident, but it won't be until I get the real experience that I will ultimately decide. Thank you again for your help!
 
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Strong advice, thank you. I really loved what you said about "not making any decisions based on fear". That is critical and I didn't even think about it like that. I will take your advice and seek out paid research opportunities to improve my cv. That might even provide me with extra time to narrow everything down to exactly what I want. I feel pretty confident, but it won't be until I get the real experience that I will ultimately decide. Thank you again for your help!
Sure! I'm glad to help. Best of luck :)
 

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Pretty good advice so far. Things I would add:

1. If you are worried about getting in, use the insiders guide to clinical and counseling psych (Norcross et al) to identify some solid programs that might be less competitive. I am from NYC and still applied to places in the south, midwest, etc. Bonus, anywhere with cheap housing keeps educational costs down.

2. If you don't get in look for a research assistant gig. Also, see if you qualify to be a neuropsych tech and administer tests. This is a decent paying job and good experience.

3. Sit down and really think about what you want to do and how long you want to work on achieving your goals. I got in my first year, but had thought about also applying to non-clinical or school psych programs in later years if I did not get into clinical psych. I also thought about PT, SLP, and Optometry school. I would have preferred all those options to a bottom of the barrel clin psych school.
 
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Dec 30, 2020
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Pretty good advice so far. Things I would add:

1. If you are worried about getting in, use the insiders guide to clinical and counseling psych (Norcross et al) to identify some solid programs that might be less competitive. I am from NYC and still applied to places in the south, midwest, etc. Bonus, anywhere with cheap housing keeps educational costs down.

2. If you don't get in look for a research assistant gig. Also, see if you qualify to be a neuropsych tech and administer tests. This is a decent paying job and good experience.

3. Sit down and really think about what you want to do and how long you want to work on achieving your goals. I got in my first year, but had thought about also applying to non-clinical or school psych programs in later years if I did not get into clinical psych. I also thought about PT, SLP, and Optometry school. I would have preferred all those options to a bottom of the barrel clin psych school.
I purchased that book two weeks ago and it has been an incredible guide! I've been able to narrow down things in the field I am interested in. And as far as other possibilities, I was thinking of becoming a research assistant to gain additional experience if I am not accepted. I am in the bay area and I have more prestigious opportunities, but I need to make sure I have a chance of working in these labs. My professor today also recommended getting a master's. I have heard a lot of people steer others away from this area, but if it is a great idea, then I will consider it.
I think creating a roadmap of possibilities is probably the best thing for me to do. I am determined and am a self-starter, but I also need to be realistic. I have followed the advice of everyone and am headed in the right direction, but I just have competition with others who started this earlier in their life. We shall see but I really appreciate the advice :)
 
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